emergency response coordination

Co-ordination and Support

Inter-Agency Standing Committee/
Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs Secretariat

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) was established in 1992 in response to General Assembly Resolution 46/182 calling for strengthened coordination of humanitarian assistance. The IASC is a unique inter-agency forum for humanitarian dialogue and decision-making among key humanitarian partners, involving the United Nations, international organizations,
the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs. Under the leadership of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the
primary role of the IASC is to shape humanitarian policy and ensure coordinated and effective response.

The Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA) is one of four committees created by the Secretary-General
in 1997 within the framework of United Nations reform. Under the leadership of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, the primary aim of ECHA is to bring the humanitarian parts of the United Nations system together with development, human rights, political, peacekeeping and security arms of the United Nations Secretariat and Agencies to address important humanitarian issues and crises.

The joint IASC/ECHA Secretariat facilitates the work of the IASC and ECHA, ensuring that they are effective, actionoriented and well-coordinated decision-making bodies. The Secretariat has a strategic role in supporting the Emergency Relief Coordinator/Under-Secretary-General in his capacity as the chair of both Committees and the Director of OCHA Geneva in his capacity as chair of the IASC Working Group.

In 2008, the IASC/ECHA Secretariat will continue to focus on key aspects of humanitarian coordination and humanitarian policy, as well as strengthening the dialogue between the United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian organizations. It will support the humanitarian community’s (table) implementation of humanitarian policy and coordination initiatives and tools in the field through active monitoring of decisions and action items endorsed by the IASC and ECHA. ECHA will continue to be supported as a tool for the management of humanitarian crisis situations and as a forum for providing humanitarian advice to the Secretary- General.

Key challenges for the IASC will include reaching meaningful consensus on policy issues among its diverse membership, while also maintaining and developing partnerships with other humanitarian actors beyond the IASC. A key challenge for both the IASC and ECHA will be strengthening the links between headquarters and the field to ensure coherence and effective coordination.

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system
Outputs Indicators
Development of inter-agency guidance to make cluster and CERF implementation in the field more effective. Percentage of IASC action points related to needs-based humanitarian financing followed up on.

Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicator
Dialogue and consultation with other humanitarian initiatives (including the Global Humanitarian Platform) and stakeholders (including the iasc subsidiary bodies) facilitated at global and country levels. Monthly ECHA meetings facilitated, resulting in concrete action points. Number of IASC and ECHA action points implemented. agreed procedures developed for the IASC Working Group to ensure appropriate monitoring and follow-up.

Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues
Outputs Indicator
Action items on IASC-agreed policy priorities reflecting current trends monitored. Progress in implementing normative guidance produced by IASC subsidiary bodies monitored. Number and percentage of items in agreed IASC policy priorities for 2008 completed.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues
Outputs Indicator
Common advocacy messages on major humanitarian issues and crises regularly discussed and endorsed in ECHA meetings. Number of advocacy messages agreed on, delivered and disseminated to the field when appropriate.

Humanitarian Reform Support Unit

The Humanitarian Reform Support Unit (HRSU) supports OCHA and its partners in implementing the principles and operational modalities of humanitarian reform. In particular, this involves strengthening partnerships, accountability, leadership and predictability. At a November 2007 IASC working group meeting, earlier agreements were reaffirmed that the cluster approach should be the framework for response in major new emergencies and eventually applied in all countries with Humanitarian Coordinators. HRSU has been extended for another year to facilitate this commitment, as well as to help with the overall coordination of the four pillars of humanitarian reform.

HRSU has three main areas of responsibility:

    1. facilitating the development of IASC policies, guidelines and tools necessary to operationalize the cluster approach;
    2. communicating key messages and ensuring appropriate training of primary stakeholders; and
    3. advising relevant actors on how to use the cluster approach and other reform-related initiatives during contingency planning and in response to emergencies and disasters.

HRSU provides services to a range of stakeholders including OCHA, IASC partners, global cluster leads, Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs), governments and donors.

A challenge that the Unit faces is ensuring the sustainability of the capacity and resources built up by global cluster leads over the past two years. Global cluster leads have received uneven and often late funding from two appeals, impeding their ability to fulfil their work plans. In some cases, poor funding has served as a disincentive to implementing further rollout. Global cluster leads are in the process of working out how their functions will be embedded and funded within their respective organizations at the end of the current appeal. However, it is unclear to what extent the current small pool of donors will continue to support global cluster leads in building and maintaining capacity and, importantly, replenishing global resources that are deployed in new emergencies. A key HRSU priority for 2008 will be achieving sustainability of the global cluster lead role and capitalizing on investments made in capacity building to date through, among other activities, developing a resource mobilization strategy with cluster leads to expand the pool of supportive donors. (table)

There has been a perception that the responsibility for leading the response at country level lies with external global cluster leads; however, governments continue to hold the primary responsibility for taking care of the victims of natural disasters and other emergencies in their territory.

For this reason, greater advocacy among governments is required, in order to: acknowledge their central role and clarify that the cluster approach aims to provide them with clearly defined international counterparts; ensure effective coordination and linkages with national counterparts; and ensure access to global capacity and support. Another key challenge for HRSU is to strengthen the capacity of all parts of OCHA to adapt working methods to conform with the humanitarian reform process, and to make sure these are complementary and mutually reinforcing.

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
Internal OCHA guidance on its role in advocating for and driving the cluster approach as the preferred modus operandi for responding to emergencies and disasters developed. inter-agency policy on the rollout of the cluster approach in new and ongoing emergencies clarified and adhered to. Global capacity-building exercise sufficiently resourced, and effectively monitored and reported on to stakeholders. follow-up strategies agreed at regional/ country workshops and plans for rollout monitored by OCHA. RCs/HCs equipped to establish emergency coordination mechanisms in accordance with the cluster approach. Fully trained personnel deployed by global cluster leads to head up field-based clusters in new emergencies. OCHA policy instruction issued. Percentage of new and ongoing emergencies using the cluster approach. Percentage of funding for the Global capacity Building appeal. Number of RCs/HCs trained in the principles and operational modalities of the cluster approach. Number
of agency/NGO personnel trained in cluster/sector Lead training programmes compared to number deployed as field-based cluster leads.

Strengthened OCHA emergency response capacity
Outputs Indicators
Humanitarian reform principles and operational elements increasingly incorporated as the preferred modus operandi in all OCHA surge/response mechanisms, tools and trainings – with particular focus on training for the new emergency response roster, emergency field coordination training, united nations disaster assessment and coordination, consolidated appeals Process, contingency planning and training for standby partners. relevant emergency response staff (field/regional offices and desk officers) appropriately equipped to advise rcs/hcs, governments and iasc field staff when responding to the initial phases of an emergency. surge capacity provided in the early phase of an emergency response when required. OCHA emergency response roster staff fully capable of advocating for and implementing the principles and operational modalities of the cluster approach. new emergency response training includes reform principles and operational modalities as the modus operandi. number of new emergencies in which OCHA successfully supports application of the cluster approach. number of hrsu missions for short-term surge capacity.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues
Outputs Indicators
Rollout of the cluster approach enhanced. Policy and operational guidance on this and wider reform incorporated and reflected in relevant advocacy/ public information trainings, workshops, country communication strategies and related material. Agreement on IASC Principals statement on the pace and modalities of implementation of the cluster approach. IASC agreement on guidance note on coordinated public information in emergencies. economic and social council agreement on the need for a General Assembly Resolution strengthening humanitarian response incorporating humanitarian reform.

Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project

Effective coordination of humanitarian action in the field hinges upon Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs). A number of key issues remain unresolved: the pool of potential HCs is too shallow; they receive little training; they have few opportunities to share experiences and best practices with their peers; and they are not always adequately supported. The same applies to RCs performing humanitarian coordination functions and emergency response.

Strengthening the humanitarian coordination and emergency response system – one of the key pillars of humanitarian reform – is a long-term endeavour that will take several years to achieve. A work plan has been developed by the IASC Humanitarian Coordinators Group, and implementation has begun.

The overall objective of the Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project is to strengthen the humanitarian coordination function, whether it is performed by HCs or RCs. Its specific objectives are to:

    1. promote dialogue and build consensus among humanitarian partners on key issues relating to the humanitarian coordination system;
    2. strengthen support to RCs/HCs in the delivery of ? humanitarian coordination; enhance the leadership
      and coordination skills of HCs and ? RCs; and
    3. expand the pool of potential HCs. (table)

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
Key Humanitarian Coordination System issues clarified and endorsed by the IASC. Leadership and coordination skills of HCs and RCs enhanced. Humanitarian Coordinator Career Development Programme developed and endorsed by the IASC. Percentage of policy papers on key issues relating to the humanitarian coordination system (establishment and dis-establishment of HC positions; HC selection; HCs’ role in new funding mechanisms; HC field support structures; HCcs’ role in inter-cluster coordination) endorsed by the iasc. Percentage of HCs and RCs rated favourably by IASC members in the 180-degree Performance appraisal. Percentage of IASC agencies endorsing the Programme.


Displacement and Protection Support Section

The Displacement and Protection Support Section (DPSS) was established in 2007 to build on the work of OCHA’s former inter-agency Internal Displacement Division in creating a more predictable, systematic and collaborative response to internal displacement. DPSS collaborates closely with the Policy Development and Studies Branch (PDSB) in supporting field offices to implement policy on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

DPSS focuses on three interrelated areas of work:

    1. supporting the mandate of the Emergency Relief Coordinator to strengthen the system-wide response to internal displacement;
    2. enhancing OCHA-wide capacity to support protection at field and headquarters levels in line with internal policy instruction; and
    3. augmenting inter-agency protection capacity through support to the Protection Cluster Working Group, the Camp Coordination and Management Cluster and the Early Recovery Cluster, as well as management of the inter-agency ProCap project.

DPSS works with all parts of OCHA to ensure coherence and optimal use of resources, especially the Coordination and Response Division (CRD), PDSB and the Advocacy and Information Management Branch (AIMB). An ad hoc internal working group on protection and displacement, established in 2007, will meet quarterly throughout 2008. DPSS will also work closely with the Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project to ensure that displacement and protection support challenges are fully integrated into complementary reform initiatives.

In 2008, DPSS will, in close consultation with PDSB and CRD, provide a targeted menu of support services to Humanitarian Coordinators, IASC Country Teams and OCHA field offices operating in significant displacement crises. Criteria have been developed to prioritize protection crises jointly with PDSB and CRD and ensure that these challenges receive adequate attention, with the menu of services including:

    1. technical support to field-level protection and displacement response;
    2. methods of strategy development with partners;
    3. advocacy strategies for an improved protection environment; and
    4. ways to mobilize resources for field-driven protection support and displacement response.

The ProCap project will continue to be managed by DPSS in 2008, subject to a review of longer-term arrangements in March. The ProCap Support Unit, as secretariat of the inter-agency project, will facilitate deployments of senior protection officers into protection-mandated agencies in support of a strong inter-agency response to displacement crises. In addition, the project will continue training standby partners in common approaches, tools and principles in order to ensure that core competencies are attained across all protection deployment rosters. These trainings will be expanded to new partners in 2008 to increase the number of qualified personnel available for rapid response. (table)

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
Displacement and protection capacities improved among resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators and IASC Country Teams in line with the internal protection policy instruction. ProCap deployments to support field coordination of protection. Training of standby ProCap partners to common standards. Protection Cluster Working Group supported and strengthened. Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator support modules incorporate protection and displacement content. Number of OCHA field offices implementing protection policy instruction according to agreed plans of action. Number of ProCap deployments and trainees. Staff contributed to the Protection Cluster Working Group Support Cell.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues
Outputs Indicators
Profile of ‘forgotten’ displacement crises raised. Number of inter-agency protection advocacy strategies in priority countries (as agreed by the internal working group), developed with AIMB and PDSB. Number of public statements on ‘forgotten’ crises released by Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Representative of the Secretary- General on Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons.

Protection agenda advanced at the country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
Protection mainstreamed in clusters/sectors and in transition situations. Protection and displacement capacity is a standard component of Emergency Response Roster skills and DPSS staff are available for surge support. Number of cluster/sector planning documents and programming strategies incorporating protection. number of OCHA staff trained in protection and displacement issues. Framework on Durable Solutions piloted in at least one country.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices
Outputs Indicators
Procap Online further developed and linked to the Global Protection Cluster. DPSS information management strategy developed and OCHA protection monitoring and reporting formats standardized. Percentage increase in usage of ProCap Online and improved user satisfaction. Protection profiles developed and maintained in priority countries.

Emergency Preparedness Section

The Emergency Preparedness Section (EPS) was established at the beginning of 2007 to dedicate capacity to carrying out disaster preparedness work in a more coherent and systematic manner within OCHA and in partnership with the disaster management community. EPS works to promote the implementation of Priority 5 (‘strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels’) of the January 2005 Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) 2005–15.

During 2007, the Section was substantially involved in the inter-agency consultation on disaster risk reduction in humanitarian action, led by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The outcome of this process, approved by the IASC Working Group meeting in November 2007, is expected to pave the way for the IASC’s future involvement in disaster risk reduction, including developing an IASC Guidance Note on disaster risk reduction in humanitarian action.

In 2008, EPS will work more actively with governments, regional organizations and OCHA’s regional and field offices in promoting disaster preparedness and supporting contingency planning. A global meeting with Regional Disaster Response Advisors (RDRAs) and National Disaster Response Advisors (NDRAs) is planned in 2008 to promote the implementation of HFA Priority 5 and exchange good practices. Under the auspices of the IASC Sub-Working Group on Preparedness and Contingency Planning, EPS will support the Early Warning and Contingency Planning Section in developing training materials for contingency planning facilitators. In collaboration with other OCHA entities carrying out disaster preparedness work, such as the Field Coordination Support Section and field and regional offices, awareness will be raised of the importance of disaster response preparedness in reducing the humanitarian impact of climate change. Together with the Pandemic Influenza Contingency (PIC) project, EPS will ensure that pandemic preparedness efforts build on and reinforce existing risk reduction strategies, disaster management mechanisms and relevant tools, such as contingency planning.

In the coming year, EPS foresees challenges in funding and human and technical resourcing for disaster response preparedness programmes. Documentation of good practices and lessons learned in disaster response preparedness remains limited and needs to be more widely disseminated. Uneven and insufficient understanding of priorities for disaster response preparedness also presents a significant challenge to the Section’s work. (table)

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
regional offices supported in setting up and strengthening inter-agency disaster management mechanisms at the national level. Number of support services provided to regional offices.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response
Outputs Indicators
National and regional response preparedness capacities in relation to disaster risk reduction strengthened. Institutional capacity and coordination mechanisms enhanced. the OCHA disaster response Preparedness toolkit launched and distributed to all OCHA staff and Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators in disaster-prone countries. Number of governments supported through CADRI and UNDAC disaster response preparedness missions and specifically tailored workshops. feedback received by OCHA staff and resident coordinators/ humanitarian coordinators on updating and improving the toolkit.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues
Outputs Indicators
Awareness-raising about the humanitarian implications of climate change within OCHA and the wider humanitarian community undertaken. Number of governments supported through CADRI and UNDAC disaster response preparedness missions and specifically tailored workshops. feedback received by OCHA staff and Resident Coordinators/ Humanitarian Coordinators on updating and improving the toolkit.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices
Outputs Indicators
Awareness-raising about the humanitarian implications of climate change within OCHA and the wider humanitarian community undertaken. Number of awareness-raising activities undertaken (including workshops on climate change and online knowledge sharing).

Improved management practices for ‘one OCHA’
Outputs Indicators
Responsibilities of EPS within the context of OCHA’s preparedness mainstreamed. collaboration with other OCHA entities strengthened. Number of joint initiatives such as periodical meetings, joint projects, concept papers and field missions related to disaster preparedness.

Pandemic Influenza Contingency

The effects of pandemics can be widespread, disrupting the systems on which people depend for their security, livelihoods and welfare. Experience with HIV/ AIDS and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has shown that in addition to a public health response, other humanitarian sectors must be mobilized to reduce vulnerability and to mitigate related social, economic and humanitarian consequences. Vital infrastructure, basic services and the availability of food, water, electricity and banking services risk major disruption – for example, through high levels of absenteeism or unwillingness to use public transport. If the World Health Organization (WHO) declares that a pandemic is imminent, or is in effect, every sector in every country must be prepared.

OCHA, through its Pandemic Influenza Contingency (PIC) project, assists United Nations Country Teams and national governments to prepare and plan for pandemics using a coordinated, multi-sector approach – improving readiness in the event of a mega-catastrophe. PIC works with the United Nations System Influenza Coordinator to ensure that the United Nations functions appropriately and effectively in support of national, regional and global efforts. As articulated in the United Nations Consolidated Action Plan for Avian and Human Influenza, OCHA is the lead agency responsible for maintaining continuity under pandemic conditions. It also ensures that pandemic plans and strategies build upon existing mechanisms for disaster management and that contingency plans are reviewed, tested and revised periodically. Within OCHA, PIC collaborates with the Emergency Preparedness Section to ensure synergy between preparedness measures and ongoing efforts to improve national disaster risk reduction strategies and contingency planning. In 2008, PIC will also enhance linkages between preparedness for pandemics, epidemics and disease outbreaks (for which OCHA’s support in coordination is often needed) and technical leadership from WHO.

In 2008, PIC will focus on:

    1. improving the readiness of the global United Nations system to cope with a sudden pandemic (or other global disease-related catastrophe) and its preparations for epidemics and disease outbreaks – in order to protect the health and safety of staff and be able to assist affected countries;
    2. assisting national authorities (through United Nations Country Teams) to improve countries’ multi-sector preparedness; and
    3. helping national actors and their international partners prepare for the delivery of humanitarian assistance in a pandemic.

The overall PIC strategy combines measurement, advocacy and support: (table)

Measurement: PIC uses an online tracking system to map the indicators of preparedness. Building on available baseline data, it measures progress, analyses results and designs or modifies its assistance tools accordingly.

Advocacy: PIC advocates for greater readiness, using a range of methods – from email and internet to tailored face-to-face presentations. PIC Regional Officers coordinate regional inter-agency initiatives, including special focus on higherlevel advocacy such as intergovernmental forums.

Support: When requested, PIC helps United Nations Country Teams prepare (and, even more importantly, helps them assist their host governments to prepare) for a high-mortality influenza pandemic. Examples of such assistance include: simulations or ‘desktop testing’ of existing plans; missions to provide help in situ; and distribution of online and printed guidance materials.

As an inter-agency network, PIC is comprised of staff from OCHA and other United Nations Agencies. A core team is based in Geneva, while support to the field is provided through PIC Officers based in each of OCHA’s regional offices.

Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators

Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international levels
Outputs Indicators
Regional inter-agency forums involving key actors in disease outbreak and pandemic preparedness organized and strengthened to provide support to country-level contingency planning beyond the health sector. Best practices shared across regions and adapted to different contexts. Functioning regional platforms. Range and engagement of participants.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response
Outputs Indicators
Pandemic preparedness built upon existing mechanisms for disaster preparedness, mitigation and response, and – as much as possible – fully integrated into national structures for disaster and crisis management. United Nations Country Teams assisted to support national governments with pandemic and catastrophe preparation, including participating in simulations. humanitarian actors agree upon and undertake priority actions to deliver assistance during a pandemic. Number of countries in which national disaster management structures incorporate and simulate pandemic risk within their scope of work. Number of United Nations Country teams receiving assistance. Number of inter-agency country humanitarian plans developed in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues
Outputs Indicators
Awareness raised in regional and sub-regional forums, involving restricted-capacity developing countries, of the need to prepare for a highmortality influenza pandemic. Advocacy materials promoting the need for both pandemic readiness and synergy with other disaster risk reduction work produced and widely distributed. Number of regional and sub-regional organizations that include sudden pandemic preparedness on their meeting agendas. Number of electronic and internet-based products produced and disseminated.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices
Outputs Indicators
National pandemic readiness standardized and measured for all United Nations programme countries. United Nations system adopts standardized indicators of readiness for United Nations Country Teams, including indicators endorsed by the United Nations Medical Service and the Department of Safety and Security. Number of governments endorsing online data. Number of United Nations Country Teams demonstrating at least 10 per cent improvement (measured by PIC indicators).